( New Zealand Prime Minister) Clark Defends Lack of Further Investigation Into (Former Immigration Minister) Field

Clark defends lack of further investigation into Field
New Zealand Herald
1.00pm Monday August 7, 2006

Prime Minister Helen Clark today rejected calls for an investigation into other successful visa applications involving embattled Labour MP Taito Philip Field.

National has been baying for the 262 successful applications to be investigated after a nine-month inquiry by Noel Ingram QC into the Labour MP's business dealings with constituents and Asians seeking immigration permits.

The inquiry cleared him of conflict of interest as a minister but raised questions about his judgment as an MP, suggesting he received cheap work after helping overstayers get work permits.

Miss Clark said today the successful cases were a matter of judgment for the minister in charge.

“No I don't (want an investigation). Nor any more would I want to investigate all the representations from members of Parliament across parties who go to the minister asking for a discretion,” she told Newstalk ZB.

“In the end ministers have to make a judgment — it's probably one of the worst jobs in government being the Minister of Immigration or associate minister who looks at these thousands of cases — they try to do their best.”

Miss Clark said Mr Field had been punished by losing his associate ministerial responsibility and while he didn't “draw proper boundary between personal interests and professional representation on behalf of constituents”, he had not misused his ministerial position.

“It's a matter of record that he's been severely punished — he's no longer a minister, he's been publicly humiliated, he's apologised to Parliament, he's accepted he's got to change the way he works — now some people want to go further and sort of bring out the executioner's weapons.

“I think the penalty has already been very severe.”

In his report, Dr Ingram raised concerns about lack of cooperation by some witnesses and some of Mr Field's answers. He suggested having wider powers may have produced different results.

Miss Clark said she ordered the inquiry because she wanted to be sure the position of minister had not been misused.

“Dr Ingram was clear that it wasn't.”